Trinamool manifesto promises GST review, probe into DeMo

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on March 27, 2019

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee releases her party’s election manifesto in Kolkata on Wednesday   -  Debasish Bhaduri

Keeping in mind a national audience, the West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee released her party’s election manifesto that assured a review of the GST system.

While broadly criticising the policies of the Narendra Modi government, the manifesto also sought a judicial probe into demonetisation and pushed for the revival of the Planning Commission.

Poll promises

Most of her election promises are aimed at MSMEs and the unorganised sector; and talks of replicating schemes that are being run by the West Bengal government. Social welfare schemes like free medical care and a revamp of land acquisition policies.

“Each State has its own sentiment and own issues. The next government will be based on a common minimum programme,” Banerjee said.

Critical of GST

Banerjee, who was previously batting strongly for implementation of GST, became a vehement critic alleging that the rollout did not happen as planned. Calling GST a “great selfish tax”, Banerjee promised “correcting the repeated mistake(s) of the GST system.”

“GST must be reviewed with an open mind to make it people-friendly, consumer-friendly and SME-friendly. Original idea of GST was different. What the Central government has implemented is nothing but harassment for small businesses and common consumers,” she said.

No wonder then that demonetisation, another step that she has been critical of since its announcement on November 8, 2016, found mention in the manifesto. Calling it a draconian measure, Banerjee promised a “thorough investigation.”

“Thorough investigation of demonetisation will take place to find out in whose interest the draconian measure was introduced. Such an investigation can take place at the level of an ex-Supreme Court judge,” she said.

The Chief Minister also called for revival of the Planning Commission, alleging that the Niti Aayog that has supplanted it has not served its purpose.

Banerjee also suggested that the ‘100-day work scheme’ and related wages be doubled to 200 days with an appropriate hike in remuneration.

Focus on MSMEs

The Chief Minister, who has often championed the cause of MSMEs, promised a “revamp in the MSME policy.”

Claiming that the sector was worst-hit because of “half-baked GST,” Banerjee promised a new national policy with “an eye to improve technologies and capacity to scale up”.

Even the new foreign trade policy that her party intends to be a part of will have “special focus” on MSMEs and labour intensive sectors. New national industrial policy and holistic IT policy have also been promised.

Published on March 27, 2019

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